Anagram Finder

Did you know that “aim of blur” is an anagram of “Fourmilab”? Well, now you can find all kinds of cool anagrams yourself, on your own computer, without even connecting to the Internet. Fourmilab's Anagram Finder is a command-line program which finds all the anagrams of a given phrase made up of words from a list of 117972 words legal in the popular crossword game. You can build your own dictionaries from custom word lists and search for anagrams using them. The program is written in C++ and may be built on any system with a modern, compatible, compiler such as GCC. A ready-to-run Win32 executable and complete source code are available. Written in the literate programming style, the hyperlinked source code may be read on line. New version 1.3 fixes compile problems with GCC versions 3.3 and 3.4, library incompatibilities on Solaris 5.9, and now includes a native 32-bit Windows executable built with Microsoft Visual Studio .NET.

Animal Magnetism

I seem to have a kind of animal magnetism: I attract unusual animals (flies too, but I'm so not going there). Over the years I've managed to capture some of the curious critters which crossed my path on film and silicon, and here are some of their photos. These are all accidental encounters with wildlife around the house, office, and garden. Please don't use the creepy giant spider photo to scare small children!

Blazing Satellites: Guns in Space

Manned orbiting battle stations, armed with rapid-fire machine guns! Bad science fiction? Well, actually, space age history, just recently revealed. Read all about it, and explore guns in space: yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Bullets Screen Saver

The Bullets Screen Saver extends the life of your monitor by riddling it with indiscriminate gunfire, complete with (optional) sound effects. Both a ready-to-install screen saver for 32-bit Windows systems and source code are available. New version 2.0 is compatible with dual screen configurations on Windows XP and saves preferences in the registry individually for each user.

CSI: South Park

The final song in the 1999 movie South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut may hold the record for the greatest number of consecutive adjectives in a movie soundtrack song. In any case, most fans agree it is both catchy and quite funny, even though they rarely agree on precisely what the words are! There are numerous purported transcriptions of these lyrics on the Web, almost all differing in the details. Pulling the exact words out of a noisy mix is never easy, and the more ears devoted to the task the better. This document presents this puzzle with the passage in question chopped up into word-size sound snippets which you can either play online or download in either MP3 or WAV format for forensic examination on your own computer. Readers are invited to submit their suggestions and votes for already suggested alternatives, which will be tabulated in regular updates to the document.

Einstein, Heisenberg, and Tipler

Three great twentieth-century physicists: Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, and Frank Tipler stand before the Throne of God on Judgement Day. Original science fiction story.

Evil Empires…

Impress your friends! Persuade the undecided! Meet new and interesting people! Get your car shot up by right-wing yahoos! Be smeared on the front page of The Wall Street Journal! Yes, it's the one, the only, the original “Evil Empires: One down, one to go…” bumper sticker, in both PostScript and PNG image formats in a variety of resolutions.

The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition—In Your Palm

Don't you just hate it when you're about to close a clandestine munitions deal and your partner raises a question about the relative applicability of Rules of Acquisition 35 and 177? You'd look like a lobeless altruist if you had to stop and ask whether Rule 35 is “Peace is good for business” or “War is good for business”! Install this Memo Pad document containing a compendium of the Rules of Acquisition on your Palm OS handheld and profit from the distilled wisdom of generations of Ferengi in the palm of your hand. Since this reference is provided as a Memo Pad archive, you can read it using the built in PalmOS Memo Pad application; there's no need to install a document reader application, and you can modify the document using the Memo Pad editing functions.


Nerds weren't held in the highest esteem in the tempestuous times of the late sixties, but if you had access to a mainframe computer with a fast line printer, a great way to make new friends and meet radical chicks was cranking out banners for the cause du jour on the graveyard shift when the Man wasn't looking. The FIST program traces its lineage directly back to a program I punched onto Hollerith cards for a UNIVAC 1108 in September 1969. It prints banners with a clenched fist and block-letter slogan of your choice. Various silly options let you choose a right- or left-handed fist according to your political persuasion and to adjust the size of the fist commensurate with the vehemence of your convictions and your printer's paper size. In the spirit of Donald E. Knuth's most excellent mise jour of the Adventure game, this version is presented as a literate program in the CWEB language; C source code is included.

Free Electrons

Just because you're a subatomic particle doesn't mean you can break the law!

The Power Switch

A very short parody of the style of computer user manual writing which reminds me of beating a moose to death with an aluminium baseball bat.

Landing by Hand on the Moon

Robert Heinlein's 1950 movie collaboration with George Pal, Destination Moon, is rightly considered one of the classics of film science fiction, winning an Oscar for Best Special Effects. On the other hand, his 1953 effort with Richard Talmadge, Project Moonbase, is largely forgotten, and deservedly so. One of the key moments in the film is the crew's guiding a supply ship in for a landing at the newly-established Moon base, and the cinematic realisation of this was, shall we say, at no risk of an Oscar nomination. Landing by Hand on the Moon presents a video clip of this less-than-magic moment in movie special effects and an explanation (hidden until you click to display it) of what you're seeing in the clip.

No EU!

No sooner do you get rid of one Evil Empire than another begins to sprout--in Brussels! If you're lucky enough to be outside (or even encircled by) the European Union, thank your lucky stars and display this symbol to ward off those twelve most unlucky stars from climbing your flagpole. If you're inside, say “enough is enough” with this No EU! symbol, available as image files in assorted resolutions, scalable PostScript, or emblazoned upon a bewildering variety of merchandise.

The Rat and the Butterfly

A fable which poses the question, “If a well-managed commercial software project attempts to maximise total return over the product life-cycle, what then should a free software project seek to optimise?“

Ski Marin

It never snows in San Francisco. Well, almost never. After moving to Marin County, north of San Francisco in the mid-1970's, imagine my surprise to wake up one fine February morning and find 10 cm of snow on the ground. A photo dating from twenty-plus years ago and a little embellishment with a modern day paint program results in a curious poster.

Three Years of Computer Time

What can you learn, in three years of computer time, about an obscure problem in recreational mathematics? Not very much, at least in this case. But hey, negative results are still results, right? And still the Quest beckons to your idle loop. In 1995, Tim Irvin continued the Quest to two million digits. His story illustrates both how fast computers have gotten in the the last five years, and how much of that power is often devoted to the idle loop.

The Titanium Cranium Awards

A collection of genuine, breathtakingly clueless E-mail sent by visitors to this site.

Top Ten

Yo! Windows application developers…it could be worse—you could be damned to Hell forever! But would that really be worse?

Trek's End

End of the world: don't you just hate it when that happens? Here's a risk you may not yet have pondered.